It’s criminal the way that the new Premier League season was snatched away from us before truly getting into its stride. That being said, in just three weeks we learned valuable things about the season ahead; it seems José Mourinho has completed his mission of amassing a gargantuan group of players that make the Stoke City of ’09 look like the Bournemouth of ’17. Meanwhile, both Manchester City and Liverpool need lecturing that as long as the game of football remains 11-a-side, having 10 excellent attackers in your ranks is at best, greedy, and at worst, unsustainable. Buying Oxlade-Chamberlain after failing to sign Virgil van Dijk is a bit like buying a television for your bathroom instead of a new washing machine: you might feel like you’re investing in the future, but in reality, it’s rash, unnecessary, and it’s not going to help you keep a clean sheet.
Alas, the drama of top-flight English football stood to one side for a fortnight, making way for the painstaking, yet sadly essential World Cup Qualifiers. Competing with phrases such as “I don’t love you anymore” and “I think we should see other people”, “it’s international break” might just come top of the pile of ‘Worst things to hear on a Saturday morning’. I’d certainly take heartbreak over watching that first-half against Malta again.
My football illiterate colleagues had misheard me moaning all week about ‘International Greg’, and so were under the impression I was infuriated with a dull, lifeless man who was somehow responsible for a lack of Premier League football. At least if this were the case there would be some way of ousting International Greg – some way of ending his regime built upon the dreams of World Cup glory.
Perhaps the reason the majority of England fans despise international breaks is the inevitability of failure once we get to a major tournament. If our beloved Premier League and Championship were to be interrupted so our brave boys could qualify for the chance of lifting the World Cup then I would have no complaints. Sadly, I am resigned to the fact that International Greg will rear his ugly head only for Southgate’s uninspired squadron to battle through an easy group stage before a dire extra-time defeat in the last 16. Is that really worth replacing a weekend of Premier League and Championship action?
I do believe however that we have found a martyr, someone to lead the rebellion against soul-destroying international football. His name is Dele Alli. He will say his gesture was aimed at Kyle Walker. I say that middle finger was the collective anguish, despair and downright boredom of an entire nation towards International Greg.